Capitalism’s “grow or die” imperative stands radically at odds with ecology’s imperative of interdependence and limit. The two imperatives can no longer coexist with each other–nor can any society founded on the myth that they can be reconciled hope to survive. Either we will establish an ecological society, or society will go under for everyone, irrespective of his or her status.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Now the post-peak oil age is staring us in the face, with the Great Recession signaling the end of bubble prosperity. There is no consensus on how things will play out -- whether a Depression, total collapse or prosperous green technotopia -- or when.
As we cannot control collapse that must stem largely from the loss of cheap, abundant energy -- a process already begun -- it is time to put our "political" energy into building local economies and forming our family-neighborhood tribes for the tough future and eventual sustainable culture ahead.
Late last year, a draft of the European Union proposal for the intellectual property chapter of the Canada - EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement leaked online. The leak revealed that the EU was seeking some significant changes to Canadian IP laws. Negotiations have continued and I have now received an updated copy of the draft chapter, complete with proposals from both the EU and Canada. The breadth of the demands are stunning - the EU is demanding nothing less than a complete overhaul of Canadian IP laws including copyright, trademark, databases, patent, geographic indications, and even plant variety rights.
The harsh reality for farmworkers also includes little to no access to healthcare, poor occupational safety and frequent accidents on the job without healthcare support from the employer. There’s also considerable exposure to toxic chemicals while working in the fields, which creates more health concerns. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that women farmworkers face additional problems such as poor access to children services, and sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
“We Are in a Cabal... Five or Six Players ... Own the Regulatory Apparatus. Everybody Is Afraid to Regulate Them"
...a bevy of bailed-out firms, including Citigroup, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, formed a new lobby calling itself the Coalition for Business Finance Reform. Its goal: to stand against heavy regulation of "over-the-counter" derivatives....
Friday, April 2, 2010
We are at the cusp of rapid and severely disruptive changes. From now on the risk of entering a collapse must be considered significant and rising. The challenge is not about how we introduce energy infrastructure to maintain the viability of the systems we depend upon, rather it is how we deal with the consequences of not having the energy and other resources to maintain those same systems. Appeals towards localism, transition initiatives, organic food and renewable energy production, however laudable and necessary, are totally out of scale to what is approaching.
Three quarters of Greeks think that government plans to cut the country's huge budget deficit are "socially unfair" because they are aimed at low-income earners, a poll has showed.North Americans need to understand the various meanings of the word "socialism", especially when used in the European context. In North America the word is frequently used as a propaganda buzz word, almost a curse word, with little other meaning except that it has something to do with government involvement. But in Europe, because socialism often carried the connotations of social/economic justice, the word has often been adopted by capitalist and even fascist parties in order to provide a veneer of legitimacy to European governments.
In Greece the ruling party is labeled as socialist, but is in fact a capitalist party that has promoted some limited welfare type programs. Most politically aware people identify such parties as "social-democratic" to distinguish them from genuine "socialist" parties in the Marxist sense, i.e, parties which promote extensive public ownership of the economy that is managed by working people. Social-democratic parties may also support government ownership of a few important industries, but the private ownership class is always the politically dominant class in such countries.
The Bush administration's story is unraveling.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
The current crisis raises the urgent need to change the world from below and do so from an anticapitalist and radical eco-socialist perspective. Anticapitalism and climate justice are two struggles which must be closely linked.
...a movement able to challenge the dominant discourse of green capitalism, recognising the impact and the responsibility of the current model of capitalist production, distribution and consumption and linking the global climate threat with everyday social problems is URGENT [my emphasis].
Globalization has led to the formation of a truly global economy, where states have less influence in global economic factors, and increasingly the world economic system is controlled by a powerful minority of banks, international financial institutions, and corporations. This process has been facilitated by the major nations of the world, primarily the United States, and it has in turn led to the formation of a truly global ruling class. David Rothkopf refers to this global class as the ‘Superclass’ and has concluded that it is a class consisting of roughly 6,000 individuals, roughly one member of the ‘Superclass’ for every one million people.
That means that all 3 federal judges to consider the question have concluded that Bush's NSA program violated the criminal law (FISA). That law provides that anyone who violates it has committed a felony and shall be subject to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each offense.I can hardly wait to see Bush locked up--hopefully in Guantanamo. ;-)
One of the principal aims of Obama’s trip was to lay down the law, gangster-style, to Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the latter’s recent flirtations with China and Iran. Karzai traveled to Beijing and Tehran in the last few weeks, and he also received a visit from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“It would have long-term consequences for our coastlines but no short-term benefits, since it would take at least 10 years to get any oil.”
“Offshore drilling would not lower gas prices today, it would not lower gas prices tomorrow, it would not lower gas prices this year, it would not lower gas prices five years from now.”
“When I'm president, I intend to keep in place the moratorium here in Florida and around the country that prevents oil companies from drilling off Florida’s coasts.”
...you have to wonder if these people [Tea Party activists] know ANYTHING at all about how their unemployment insurance and social security checks came into being. I'm only guessing, but I bet they probably believe that the federal government "imposed" these new laws on the people of America. The idea that the federal government fought the concepts tooth and nail, and were forced by a nationwide grassroots movement to approve it, is probably not something that has occurred to these people.Of course, the Tea Party activists are not from the organic grass roots--they were created by Fox News Corp. Yes, corporations are clever enough nowadays to create their own activists by exploiting the misery of working people whose minds are controlled by the TV set. Fortunately for working people of the 1930s, TV didn't exist. The ruling class had radio stations and newspapers, of course, but nothing that had the power of TV to fill the minds of working people with distractions and disinformation. On the other hand, we have the internet.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
For the American living before 1800, a ‘wage slave’ was a mere step removed from an actual slave. To be an employee was one step above indentured servitude. You did it when necessity demanded, but only for as short a period of time as possible, and then returned to become more independent—your own boss.Conceptually speaking, wage slavery still is "a mere step removed from actual slavery". It might be argued that actual slavery is better. Think for a minute about being the property of, let's say, Donald Trump. He paid for you and thus has an investment in you. I'm sure he would take good care of his investment by seeing to it that you received good health care, shelter, etc., so that you could work for him as efficiently and productively as possible in order to increase his profits.
The story of how we became ‘wage slaves,’ and the multiple revolts against this station, is a fascinating one, and part of our ‘untold history.
People like Trump eventually realized back in the 19th century that it was much smarter to rent slaves than to own them. That way an owner could forget about taking care of their slaves and just rent new ones from a pool of unoccupied new slaves. Hence it became important for our ruling class of owners to insure that there were always many unoccupied, or "unemployed" slaves. Also, they thought it best from a public relations point of view to call wage slaves, "employees".
Otherwise nothing changed. They still had to follow the orders of their boss and had no say over what work they performed and how they did their work. During the 1930s the owners and their bosses, after many years of struggles with recalcitrant slaves, finally gave their rented slaves the right to organize for better slave wages and the number of hours that they worked. But they did this only because of widespread fear of slave revolts and many ideas about public ownership of the economy that were current at that time when the economy was in a state of collapse.
After WWII the owners embarked on an aggressive, and very successful campaign to effectively roll back many of the legal gains that wage slaves had made; and used other tactics to co-opt labor leaders and to educate the public on the evils of socialism and public ownership.
Now we have arrived at another economic collapse. I wonder what scenario will present itself in the coming years. Will the idle American wage slaves revolt or passively descend into poverty and despair? Are the American wage slaves so brainwashed by many decades of indoctrination by the media and the educational system that they will assume that their problems are their own fault, and hence do nothing? Or worse, engage in self-destructive behaviors, steal from others, or find fascist type leaders appealing? Of course, there is always the opportunity to join the military and "see the world". I hear that the military services are currently filling their quotas for the first time in decades. Or they could work toward changing the system to something that was sustainable and just. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
In the midst of economic devastation and oppression, the people who originally formed and supported the Mondragon cooperatives did so out of necessity to feed and provide for their families. They started their own schools, created their own jobs, provided their own health care and met their own banking and financing needs. Theirs is a story about self-reliance and pragmatism, not just idealism.
For the past 14 years, the non-profit company set up by the U.S. Congress to provide legal services for the poor has been forced to short-change the needy because of severe government restrictions on how it can use its funding, critics charge.
Report identifies Koch Industries giving $73m to climate sceptic groups 'spreading inaccurate and misleading information'
...the media has seriously misrepresented the actual contents of the report. In fact, no new information has been revealed. Such incorrect analysis shouldn't be taken lightly, however; it weighs in the balance between war and peace in the Middle East.
The case could have far-reaching implications. About 20 percent of human genes have been patented, and multibillion-dollar industries have been built atop the intellectual property rights that the patents grant.
Just days after President Obama signed the new health care law, insurance companies are already arguing that, at least for now, they do not have to provide one of the benefits that the president calls a centerpiece of the law: coverage for certain children with pre-existing conditions.Also, read Yves Smith's take on this in her article, "Health Care Bill Bait and Switch".
Just this week, a Moody’s report stated: “…the proposed regulatory framework doesn't appear to be significantly different from what exists today."
...capitalism is not about quality care. Its priority is to make profit and control the subsequent damage in the cheapest way possible. The hospital industry opposes staff-to-patient ratios because they interfere with the ability of managers to cut costs and, in the private sector, to raise profits.
Monday, March 29, 2010
The future depends on how much the great majority is willing to endure, and whether that great majority will collectively offer a constructive response to confront the problems at the core of the state capitalist system of domination and control.
For the commission to reach an agreement, its Democrats will have to win the support of at least two Republicans, which will be nearly impossible unless spending cuts are among its proposals. That Obama’s picks are so amenable to, if not gunning for, some form of benefits cuts suggests the White House is indeed seeking such a "grand bargain" from the commission, not a stalemate.
Clearly, the Americans are furious that Karzai is steadily disengaging from the US's grip and seeking friendship with China and Iran. Pretences of cordiality are withering away even as Washington realizes that the ground beneath its feet is shifting.
...when Google calls the NSA, everyone watching sees it as a package deal. The company wants geeks, but it runs the risk of getting spies, too. The NSA’s wiretapping directorate has a vested interest in keeping company information at least slightly open in case they need to take a look someday....
Sunday, March 28, 2010
While American society has become abundantly more affluent over the past quarter century, most of that gain has been concentrated amongst a shrinking upper class minority of people whose incomes are derived primarily from ownership, not from wages. In response, the FDA has prescribed additives like monosodium glutamate and high fructose corn syrup for American workers that are in debt up to their eyeballs because they haven't had the purchasing power to pay for healthy food since the 1960s.
By the end of the process the proposals did not pose much of a threat to the industry. As long as they managed to avoid competition by government-run non-profit alternatives, they were in the clear. But if the insurance industry had embraced any of Obama’s proposals and called off the bitter campaign of resistance, they would have allowed proponents of real change enough room to organize and strike back. The only way to avoid that was to keep the “other side,” i.e. progressive forces, on the defensive by denouncing even the most moderate change. The strategy worked wonderfully.